Working with Hostile Buyers

hostile buyersIt’s inevitable that you’ll eventually find yourself working with hostile buyers. Confronted by a buyer who has suddenly turned hostile, average salespeople get anxious about their own dignity. If it requires shouting before withdrawal, they shout; if their dignity allows a silent stomp out, they silently stomp out—to oblivion with that particular buyer in either case.

Champions see the situation in an entirely different light. They know at once that their buyers are in pain—that countering the buyer’s hostility with more hostility is non-productive—that their own dignity is beside the point. As human beings they want to help relieve the other person’s pain; as business people, they want to move that pain aside so they can get on with business.

Here’s how Champions win by casting themselves as the good guys: They keep calm, listen carefully, and speak to the heart of the matter at the first opportunity.

“Jim, I’m getting the feeling that you’re really more troubled by something that has nothing to do with me or my company than you are about what we’ve been discussing. [Don’t pause.] I’d like to understand what’s bothering you. Why don’t you lay a little of that burden on my shoulders? I think that’ll make it easier for both of us. Getting things like that off your chest is something you just have to do, and talking to someone not directly involved can be a great way to clarify your thinking about a challenge. Would you like to tell me about it?”

Speak clearly as you say these words, and don’t hurry them. The hostile buyer usually waffles at first—denies that he has a problem or pretends to ignore your statement. But, then, if you’ve demonstrated genuine empathy, chances are that he’ll drift into talking about what’s bothering him. Once he gets started, he’ll probably use up the available time telling you all about it. Don’t worry. He’ll invite you back, or he’ll say something like, “Enough of my personal problems. Let’s get back to the matter at hand.”

There’s almost always a way to win buyers over when you get yourself out of the way.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

For more information on how to work effectively with buyers, read When Buyers Say No.